The Supreme Cat Show, often thought of as the Feline equivalent of Crufts, is held every year at the NEC, near Birmingham. It is the highlight of the year for those who regularly show their cats, both pedigrees and non-pedigrees. It is also greatly looked forward to by many cat lovers, some of whom visit it on a regular basis, year after year. This year's show took place on Saturday 23rd October 2016. It was a particularly special show, as it was the 40th anniversary of the beginning of the Supreme Cat Show. So how did it all go?
“The Supreme”, as most people in the know tend to call it, is not like any other cat show. There are many more cats for a start, several hundred usually, and this year was no different. The owners can decorate their pens, and there is also a decorated pen competition with a particular theme. The cats are not judged in their pens as at most cat shows, but are taken to the judge in the ring, so that people can watch the judging. Each cat is judged with others of its breed; then later in the day the winners are judged together for the Best of Variety, then Best Adult, Kitten, and Neuter, and finally the Best in Show. Being winner of the Supreme is the absolute high point of any cat's show career.
This year the theme was “Science Fiction”. Several celebrities from the world of science fiction had been invited to the show, and the show organisers hoped to attract visitors who perhaps otherwise would not have attended. Some visitors were in costume, with a Dalek and other familiar characters wandering along the aisles!
When it came to the cats' decorated pens, some owners had really gone to town! There were a number of Dr Who decorated pens, with several large phone boxes. Star Wars was another popular interpretation. Some pens had flashing lights and intricate scenery – indeed, it was sometimes difficult to see the cat. Exhibitors are warned in advance to be sure that the cat can be easily taken out of its pen for judging, and this year one could see the reason for this warning.
Of course, entering the competition is not mandatory, and some people simply used brightly coloured drapes to decorate the pen and show off their cat. Unlike at other shows, they were also allowed to put up information about the cat, some of which was very interesting and informative.
For those showing cats, it was a very early start. 'Vetting In', when the vet checks over the cats, took place from 7 am to 9 am, with the show open to the public from 9 am. Some exhibitors had even stayed overnight with their cats in local hotels. This year there was a major hiccup that could not have been predicted – there was an early morning accident on the M6 motorway, which held up many exhibitors and some judges and other officials. For this reason the show was a little late in starting.
After that, things went well. The judging of each class took place in the morning. This was a fairly quiet time anyway, with the majority of the public arriving later, as happens most years. This made it easier for the cats, although to be honest, only confident cats who are not fazed by a lot of people would do well in the crowded, busy atmosphere of the Supreme.
Most of us had a very enjoyable day. This year, the certificates given to the winners of each class counted for two 'normal' awards, making it easier for each cat to gain its coveted next title. For example, an untitled neuter cat winning its class would normally gain a 'Premier' certificate, and it would need three of these to become a Premier. Since a Supreme win counted for two certificates, a cat with only one previous win could gain its title at this show, and a number did. So there were a lot of ecstatic owners around – though of course, the large number of cats means that winning a class at the Supreme can be a lot harder than usual.
The visitors enjoyed looking at all the lovely cats. Perhaps surprisingly, the Household Pet area attracted a great deal of attention. The cats here were simply normal 'moggies' - though moggies in the peak of condition, who had all been bathed and groomed, and who coped well with show conditions. Nevertheless, many visitors came to realise that they too could show their 'ordinary' cats, which will perhaps mean cat shows will become more popular in the future.
The various shops and stalls were a great place for visitors to buy everything from cat food to cat themed clothes and jewellery to cat runs and enclosed gardens. Anything to do with the world of cats was here. However, many smaller stall holders were heard to comment that it was proving too expensive for them to attend. It would be a great shame if they were to leave for this reason; Supreme organisers, please take note!
In mid-afternoon came the part that many people had been waiting for – the Best of Variety judging, followed by the judging for the Best in Show. Cats of many breeds have won this in the past, and it is possible for any cat to win. Many people congregated around the central ring to watch the judging for this exciting event....
This year the Supreme Adult (ie entire or un-neutered cat) was a gorgeous British Red. The Supreme Neuter was an elegant oriental Chocolate Spotted Tabby; this cat was also the runner-up to the overall winner. The Supreme kitten, and also the Supreme Exhibit and therefore overall winner of the show, was a very cute Blue Point Birman kitten.
Thee were also Supreme winners for the non-pedigrees – a Best Pedigree Pet, Best Household Pet, and Best Kitten. These were beautiful cats, who were perhaps more familiar looking to those who don't often see pedigree cats.
The show finally closed at 5.30 pm, and owners began to dismantle their pen decorations and pack everything up prior to setting off home. Everyone agreed it had been a great success. Many of us are already looking forward to the next one, on October 28th 2017...